1970, Movies

Le Genou de Claire (1970, Eric Rohmer)

Ah, the good old days, when European men could prey on little girls and everyone thought it was just great.

There are many of these European films – often French, when it comes to girls – where some man who is just way too fucking old becomes obsessed with someone way too young. And many of these films are considered absolute classics of cinema. I for one am happy that we have decided as a society that 37 year old men shouldn’t pursue 16- and 18-year-olds but, apparently, that was a less common opinion among film critics as recently as 1970.

Honestly, I’m so creeped out by this movie that I have a hard time trying to appreciate whatever the hell else I’m supposed to like about it. (Aside from the scenery, the scenery is just stunning. This is a part of France I have long wanted to go to.)

Jerome is not just creepy in his pursuit of two girls but he’s also maddeningly jealous of the woman who might actually be his own age, while he’s supposed to be getting married. People like this are awful. My tolerance for characters like this is diminishing though I have more time for them in comedies than serious films like this. (A note on the actresses: weirdly, the younger sister is played by the older actress. So, while his affections to her feel extra icky, it’s the affections towards the older sister that really are fucking gross.)

I do find myself wondering if my tolerance for talky European films where they just ponder the meaning of whatever is dwindling. (And it’s hard to watch a film like this with distractions.) But I suspect that I would have had a lot more tolerance for a talky European film musing about the nature of love and narrative in an absolutely gorgeous setting if the hero wasn’t such a lecherous creature.

Somebody called this film perfect. But, as someone who thinks that children are not capable of having consensual romantic relationships with adults, I find it kind of offensive. Whatever artistic virtues all these people see in it are awfully hard to see when all you can find about is a 37-year-old man wanting to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. (Because that is what this film is about.)


PS And, listen: I understand that observing is not condoning. I do. But, ewwwwwwwwwww.

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